From smoking to vaping : vapers' perspectives of policy related facilitators and barriers : a thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in the Department of Psychology, Massey University

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Background: New Zealand aims to be ‘smoke free’ by 2025. The impact of punitive policies upon quit rates had slowed drastically while stressing the most vulnerable members of society. Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) supports switching to greatly risk-reduced alternative products. One example is vaping which has been found to be more effective than nicotine replacement therapies. Despite this, vaping is often seen by policy makers and influencers as a moral slippery slope. Vapers are often seen as cheats who try to get around bans on smoking. Instead of listening to those who have successfully used THR to stop smoking, vapers have been characterised as ‘naughty smokers.” Aim: This study aimed to determine how Tobacco Harm Reduction related policy options could influence a person’s decision to attempt to stop smoking via vaping. Method: Nine former smokers who had switched completely to vaping participated. Four vignettes describing different vaping policy environments were read to participants. Participants were asked how a smoker thinking of using vaping to stop smoking might think or feel in each circumstance. Responses were recorded, transcribed and then qualitative content analysis was conducted. The four environments were 1) highly permissive and largely unregulated, 2) moderately permissive with some regulation, 3) moderately restrictive with stringent regulations, and 4) highly prohibitive law where vaping nicotine is illegal. Results: Conditions which favoured vaping acted as facilitators that supported behavioural change. Conditions that were not supportive of vaping and conditions that were neutral or confusing acted as barriers to behavioural change. Age, strength of motivation and the reasons for considering smoking cessation moderated the decision-making process. Conclusion: Results indicate a distinct gap between proposed vaping related policy in New Zealand and policy that is likely to be most effective in reducing smoking rates. Mixed messaging results in psychological non-congruence which is problematic. This study would interest those who are open to novel solutions to the negative impact of smoking upon community members.